Lyrics Alley is the evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they've built for decades.
In 1950's Sudan, the powerful Abuzeid dynasty has amassed a fortune through their trading firm. With Mahmoud Bey at its helm, they can do no wrong. But when Mahmoud's son, Nur, the brilliant, handsome heir to the business empire, suffers a debilitating accident, the family stands divided in the face of an uncertain future. As British rule nears its end, the country is torn between modernizing influences and the call of traditions past - a conflict reflected in the growing tensions between Mahmoud's two wives: The younger, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and escape "backward-looking" Sudan; while Waheeba lives traditionally behind veils and closed doors. It's not until Nur asserts himself outside the cultural limits of his parents that his own spirit and the frayed bonds of his family begin to mend.
Moving from Sudanese alleys to cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated postcolonial Britain, this sweeping tale of desire, loss, despair, and reconciliation is one of the most accomplished portraits ever written about Sudanese society at the time of independence.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes. For its history, for its exploration of the meaning of material posessions, family and life itself.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Lyrics Alley?
There is a point where Nur starts reading again and realises he has something to live for. "He reads and there is no reason to die." Something as simple as that, in his condition, is suddenly a transformative experience that opens the doors to life itself.
Would you listen to another book narrated by Parisa Johnston?
Any additional comments?
I had no idea that Sudan and Egypt had such a tumultuous relationship in the past. In addition to telling a beautiful story about ambition, lost love and hope, Leila Aboulela, opens up a part of Africa's history that I was not that familiar with. Set in the 1950s in both Sudan and Egypt, this story follows the story of Nur Abuzeid, a young man destined to take over his father's business empire, but fate has other plans. Aboulela takes us through an unfamiliar time and place in a way that draws one in so that by the end of the story you have a picture of the political and social tensions of the time and are rallying behind Nur and his family to overcome them, but are still not sure if you want him to have everything that his heart desires.